Propaganda is Not Reality

A lot of people make the mistake of believing that the propaganda they’re being fed is truth. But propaganda is not reality. If one wants an example of this point, they need look no further than the propaganda being pumped out to support the drug war:

In the middle of May, a police officer in East Liverpool, Ohio, Chris Green, was responding to a traffic call when he realized that white powder had spilled inside the car he was investigating. He put on gloves to protect himself from what he would later learn was a formulation of fentanyl, a potent prescription opioid, as he handled the situation. Later, when he got back to the station, another officer pointed out some dust on the back of Green’s shirt. Green brushed it off, no gloves, without thinking. Soon after (some accounts state it was mere minutes, others clock it at an hour), he was unconscious.

“I was in total shock,” he told the local paper after the fact. “ ‘No way I’m overdosing,’ I thought.”

He would go on to receive four doses of naloxone, an emergency drug that counteracts an opioid overdose, before waking up.

An overdoes from merely touching fentanyl? That sounds like powerful and extremely dangerous stuff! Except for the fact that the story as told is bullshit:

Each of the medical and toxicology professionals I asked agreed that it’s implausible that one could overdose from brushing powder off a shirt. Skin cannot absorb even the strongest formulations of opioids efficiently or fast enough to exert such an effect. “Fentanyl, applied dry to the skin, will not be absorbed. There is a reason that the fentanyl patches took years [for pharmaceutical companies] to develop,” says my colleague Ed Boyer, M.D., Ph.D., a medical toxicologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

While fentanyl is dangerous due to its concentrated nature, it’s not so dangerous that touching a little bit of it with your skin will cause you to overdoes. Unfortunately, while most publications were happy as can be to publish the officer’s account of the incident, they didn’t bother doing any investigation (thus why the field is seldom referred to as investigative journalism these days) into whether or not the officer’s story was even plausible. Even when journalists aren’t intentionally publish propaganda, they often unintentionally publish it by mindlessly accepting whatever a government official says as fact and publishing it without any investigatory work.